Kolkata - "Extreme violation of freedom of expression" and reminiscent of the Emergency days were among the barrage of angry comments made on Twitter, including by exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, following the West Bengal governet arresting a Jadavpur University professor for circulating cartoons of some ruling Trinamool Congress leaders, including Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
"Shame! Shame! A professor is arrested over a cartoon in Kolkata. It's an extreme violation of freedom of expression!" tweeted Nasreen, now in New Delhi.
Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member Brinda Karat likened Banerjee's action to the happenings during the internal emergency in India between 1975 and 1977.
"The arrest shows Mamata's mindset. This is very much like what happened during emergency," said her tweet.
Dripping sarcasm, Salil Tripathi said: "No Marx, no cartoons in Mamata-di's Bengal. â€¦ Only Groucho Marx can make sense of the lady with hawai chappals (Banerjee)."
The reference was to a recommendation made by a syllabus review committee appointed by Banerjee to "trim" the higher secondary history curriculum of "excesses" of Marxism.
In another tweet, Sohini, who apparently stays outside Bengal, said she was scared to go back to Kolkata. "Mamata Banerjee is Hitler draped in a cotton sari, with Tagore's verses on her lips!"
Nilanjana Roy was also forthright in her condemnation. "Mamata's Bengal is rapidly becoming one of India's most intolerant, least free states."
Ambikesh Mahapatra, a professor of physical chemistry, in his 50s, was arrested early Friday, attracting criticism from all quarters.
Another person, Subrata Sengupta, the secretary of Mahapatra's housing society, has also been arrested as the professor allegedly used the society's registered email id to send the cartoon strips.
The collage of cartoons by Mahapatra allegedly includes the photographs of Banerjee and Railway Minister Mukul Roy and uses some dialogues of Satyajit Ray's detective masterpiece "Sonar Kella", showing the duo discussing how to get rid of party leader Dinesh Trivedi, who was forced by the chief minister to give up the railways portfolio. 'Mukul' is incidentally the name of the child protagonist in
Mahapatra has been booked under charges of outraging the modesty of a woman - punishable with one year imprisonment, defamation which carries a maximum term of two years and hacking, punishable with three years prison term and fine up to Rs.2 lakh.
Both Mahapatra and Sengupta were granted bail by the court of 2nd judicial magistrate (Alipore) Suparna Roy.
Mahapatra was also beaten allegedly by Trinamool Congress supporters while he was returning home and handed over to the police after filing a complaint against him.